Kitchen Table Economics

National Debt and COVID-19 Economic Relief

The U.S. government has a habit of spending more money than it takes in. The yearly mismatch is called a spending deficit and when combined on a rolling basis, the national debt. The current national debt is $26 trillion—or just over $69,000 per every American.

Spending bills passed by Congress and signed by President Trump to soften the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has left the national debt bigger than ever. Although some spending is necessary to help shore-up small businesses and the families they support, pandemic-era appropriations have totaled more than $2.4 trillion so far.

Now, Congress is in the midst of negotiating yet another relief plan. While more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program—which has helped save 51 million jobs—is welcome, lawmakers should avoid saddling even more debt onto future generations. Instead, the focus should be on other policies—including a liability shield to protect small businesses from an avalanche of pandemic-related lawsuits and a walk back of expanded unemployment benefits—that don’t have a price tag, but will help to spark further economic recovery.